Abe Irizarry arrived at Delancey Street in 1973, a 30-year-old junkie and ex-convict, his life thus far all charm and swagger and nothing productive to show for it. By the time he died, he’d become not just a permanent resident, but the very embodiment of Delancey. The service will be a celebration with salsa dancing and singing and telling of old stories, and it will be as raucous and warm as the man himself, his friends said. Mr. Irizarry died of a heart attack on Nov. 17 in his room at Delancey Street. “He said what most people say: ‘I need to change, I don’t want to go back to prison, I need to make a life for myself,’” she said. When he arrived he was tall but with the scrawny look of a longtime addict. Before he was maitre’ d’ at the restaurant at 600 Embarcadero, he helped lay the concrete for the building under construction. “I never thought I would be anything, just a convict in prison, part of a gang,” said Ramiro Mejia, a nine-year resident of Delancey. Mr. Irizarry could be stern — actually, he could really let loose and yell, when that’s what it took, Silbert said — but his anger came from a warm and mindful place. “He was special,” said John Burton, the state Democratic Party chairman and former congressman and state Senate president. Not a lot of special people floating around town anymore. In addition to numerous friends at Delancey Street, Mr. Irizarry is survived by daughters Andrea Irizarry of Modesto and Lisa Irizarry of Cottage Grove, Ore.; grandsons Ronald Landaker, Jordan Gallagher and Dylon Gallagher; and three great-grandchildren.
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